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Small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross can now serve spirits neat

Juliana Yu

Currently, the only way to order spirits after midnight at any bar in the CBD and Kings Cross is with a mixer. It’s a regulation aimed at curbing tequila shot-exacerbated drunkenness, but one which has also regularly annoyed more taste conscious drinkers not into the idea of watering down their expensive top shelf drams with post-mix Coke.

However in a win for small bars, from Sunday venues in the CBD and Kings Cross which host less than 100 patrons will no longer have to serve spirits with mixers after midnight.

Announcing the changes, Minister for Racing Paul Toole recognised that “those who appreciate fine whisky in a relaxed, intimate small bar setting would sooner go without than be forced to dilute their favourite drop,” confirming that this change has been made more for people reclining on leather banquettes sipping a Hibiki neat than those wanting to throw back a few sneaky shots of sambuca at the bar.

Karl Schlothauer, who owns Stitch Bar on York St, says the changes are necessary for bars like his to operate properly.

“Stitch is predominantly a whisky bar, so this will allow customers to have the full experience until we shut - the restrictions were a real hindrance,” he said.

Small bars will also be permitted to sell cocktails not listed on the menu after midnight, lifting a creative stifle that’s been placed on some of our city’s most talented bartenders.

The changes follow on from a string of relaxations granted specifically to the small bar industry, which the NSW Government has identified as a form of nightlife with lower risk of alcohol-related violence. Earlier this year there was a statewide increase in the patron limit from 60 to 100, while trading hours for small bars in the CBD and Kings Cross were extended from midnight to 2am.

Owners like Mr Schlothauer have since been moving their venues to small bar licences in order to benefit from the changes.

“As of just an hour ago actually, I’ve also moved my other two bars, Button and Pocket, to the small bar licence to take full advantage,” he said.

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